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BSEN Q&A with Head Coach Dave Bell

June 18, 2024

After signing a 2-year extension on the weekend, Head Coach Dave Bell sat down with the BSEN to discuss his new deal, last season’s achievements, and what’s in store for the offseason as we look ahead to the 2024-24 campaign.


BSEN: Congratulations, first of all, on the extension. Obviously, you’re pleased to have that done and dusted.  

DB: It’s big. It’s big for me, it’s big for my family, to give us some direction for a couple of years and know our kids are going to be here at the same schools. It’s actually big for my son, who’s able to graduate from the school he’s been at for the past five years for his grade eight graduation, it lines up nicely for him to graduate with his peers, so that’s a big thing for me. 

BSEN: I wanted to talk about the two-year term. Given that you’ve been embedded in this community for the last six years, how important was it to get that extra bit of stability and what is it about the Bay of Quinte that makes you want to stick around? 

 DB: It’s a great community, it’s the right size for me and I love it. It’s a small-town feel, which is where I was raised. It’s a tight-knit community where everybody helps each other out, and that’s what we like about it. You can go out there and make an impact, if you’re out doing a breakfast club, or the Rotary Clowns for Kids, to see the impact you can make in a smaller community is nice. 

BSEN: Obviously, the extension is a testament to the work you and your staff were able to do this season in getting this club through a playoff round and then giving the Cleveland Monsters just about all they could handle. 

DB: It was a team effort. On any given night, it was the trainers, an equipment manager, or even the bus drivers going through snowstorms, it was a complete team effort. I’m super proud of the group and the staff for their accomplishments this year. 

BSEN: We haven’t talked much about the season since after that loss in Cleveland back in early May. How have reflected on things and how this 2023-24 campaign went for you and your group? 

DB: I’ve done a lot of reflecting from a personal standpoint when it comes to my growth and the things I did as a coach. The things I got better at, or the things I need to improve on. But, as a group, I’ve been reflecting on the success of getting into the playoffs, winning a round and then pushing Cleveland in a pretty competitive series. But at the same time, I’ve been looking back on guys getting their first NHL games, or going up for extended stints, getting their first NHL goals or wins, that’s rewarding for me as a coach. It kind of makes me tick and that’s our job down here, to progress guys to the point where they can go up there and be impactful. I think that group up there (in Ottawa) is at a point where they need guys to come in and contribute, not just be bench-fillers. They’re on the upswing, so when we can get guys to go up there and contribute like I think guys did this year, that shows that we’re having success down here. 

BSEN: A couple of the guys who have had a look up top re-signed, with Angus Crookshank and Cole Reinhardt being the first two signings that could impact Belleville in the upcoming season. Was it nice to see those guys put pen to paper? 

DB: Absolutely. The first thing is that they’re both good people. I think Steve Staios, Ryan Bowness and Dave Poulin make sure that we have good people coming back, and those are two great people. Angus had another good year but with a couple of injury setbacks and the same with Cole. They could never get into a real long groove due to injuries. But Angus went up and had some success and I think that’s a testament to his work ethic away from the puck. We’ve always known he can score, is hungry around the net and good on the power play, but he was told he had to work on his 200-foot game, and I think he did, then was rewarded with a decent stint up there. It’s good for him and I’m sure he’s going to be pushing for a roster spot in Ottawa come September. 

BSEN:  What’s the day-to-day look like this time of year, how do you keep busy when you have a little bit of time? 

DB: Well, the kids. I do as much as I can with them because in the winter I’m not around at all and I hardly see them, so I spend as much time as I can with them. But, it’s starting to be free agency time, so I’ve been talking with Ryan and Steve about who’s coming back and putting the staff together here again. It’s been about a month of downtime and letting the brain and body recharge, so things are starting to creep back in. Development Camp will be in Ottawa before the draft, so I’ll turn the hockey brain back on and start chipping away at things we want to work on for next year. 

BSEN: And as always is the case in the American Hockey League, it seems like there’s a fair amount of roster work to do with a few other guys (Lassi Thomson, Jacob Larsson, Jiri Smejkal) signing elsewhere. How do you go about putting together another team that can be as competitive, or more competitive than it was this year? 

DB: I’m kind of just a cheerleader in that. Steve, Sean McAuley, Ryan Bowness, those guys have done all their work with the pro scouts. My philosophy is whoever they push through that door, I’m going to coach the heck out of them and get as much out of them as I can. They’ll ask me for my input and maybe I’ll get some intel if I can, whether it’s knowing a coach that coached or a player that played with them that I know. But other than that, those guys did an unbelievable job last year of putting the group together and I expect the same this year. 

BSEN: As much as there are holes to fill, there’s a pretty good group of returning prospects and familiar names that will surely see this team be competitive.  

DB: I think so and I think those guys will tall take jumps. Hopefully, Tyler Boucher has a good summer of getting healthy and conditioning, and Roby Jarventie is in the same boat. We saw a little glimpse of what Stephen Halliday can do and got a taste of it, so now he’ll have a summer under his belt of knowing what he needs to do. And again, some guys going into their third year where you expect to make the jump and push to make Ottawa make the hard decision whether to re-sign them or call them up to the NHL. I think we’re in a good spot, we fill it in with some good veterans have guys take some steps in their second and third years, and we should be good. 

BSEN: October is a way away, but what are you looking forward to most about the 2024-25 AHL season? 

DB: Making guys better again. Our philosophy was to get better every day and learn from every day whether it was a good experience or something we did poorly. I think if you take that approach, the byproduct is to win some games, get in the playoffs and make some noise. I don’t look at the playoffs in October, I look at getting better from day one of training camp when we get from Ottawa to here, and then just keep getting better every day.    

Fans can put a deposit down now to lock in a group experience for one of the B-Sens six guaranteed dates for the 2024-25 season, with more information on 2024-25 season seat memberships or 2024-25 Business Elite memberships, available via the Belleville Sens website, or by emailing

About the Belleville Senators

The Belleville Senators are the American Hockey League affiliate of the National Hockey Leagues’ Ottawa Senators and have been operating in the AHL since the 2017-18 season. The Senators play their home games out of the CAA Arena at the Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre and have graduated more than 60 players to the NHL since moving from Binghamton, New York.

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